[Small town Canada: some High Schoolers are having a party, in a house where there is a clothes collection on display to be photographed]
The new girls gasps. Jason flicks her arm and says she’s done.
But he takes L’s hand at the doorway and pulls her back – what for? Oh, to fix her dress. The tunic has fallen to one side. He straightens it, adjusting the folds, fingers cool on her skin. His breath on her shoulder….
The living room has furniture in it. Chairs, a glass table. And along the wall, a parade of dummies dressed in psychedelic clothes…
Jason says “But some of this stuff is valuable, I don’t want it wrecked or stolen…”
Jason and L take the dummies upstairs, one at a time: the backless, black-skirted, paisley-sequined cocktail dress; the Mondrian colour-block; the hot-pink mini that goes with the pink gloves. L puts the gloves in her pocket, rolled together the way Mimi always did. It’s kind of a nightmare because the clock is ticking – they’re still on the stairs with a long black satin Audrey Hepburn-type gown when the first bunch of people comes banging at the door.
observations: I explained in an earlier entry how much I loved this book, and how it was full of amazing clothes descriptions.
I could list what I liked about the book all day, but here are some of my favourite things:
The language is distinctive and matched to the character – I loved the word order of ‘who even is that?’, when the teenager L sees something unexpected at a party.
There is a look at a young woman cutting herself – it’s a minor, glancing moment in the book, but it was honest and totally convincing.
There’s a beautifully reported mother/daughter argument which the reader can see equally from both sides:
‘nobody in the world makes me as mad as you do!’I loved that at one point in the book Hugh thinks about all his friends and ends up making a table.
Shit, shit, shit, there goes the Buddhist vow. Give her a loving, gag-me, big-toothed smile, maybe she won’t start sobbing.
In his head he makes a list of what everybody needs:
What’s Wrong? What Would Help?
MIMI dying 0-nothing-nada-zip
RUTH old, poor affection, $$
--- and so on through all the characters. It was the perfect summing up two-thirds of the way through the book.
There are great coats in the book (‘Ivy loves a suitable coat for the person’) – an asymmetric tweed coat, a jacket with a $100 bill in the pocket, a black coat with a brilliant lining.
There are Hugh/you jokes and misunderstandings throughout the book, and also an unexplained series of anagrams: Argylle, Gallery, Largely and allergy all keep popping up.
As well as looking at people, relationships, love and money, Endicott also takes in art and art galleries, and acting and plays. The Masterclasses for the High Schoolers are particularly fascinating, as well as hilarious as they keep changing which play they are meant to be studying.
Honestly, this is a great book, and will surely be one of my Best Books of the Year: I highly recommend it for anyone who can get hold of it.
The top picture is an Oscar de la Renta dress (thanks to Leah for modelling) – zigzag hot pink colour blocking, whoo - the lower pic is an Yves St Laurent Mondrian.